Can you recommend a book, review paper or other overview source on contemporary philosophy, esp. philosophy in relation to science (broadly understood, not only natural sciences), epistemology and research?

What I am looking for is a balanced and inclusive view (but not not an encyclopaedia such as Stanford's because it lacks integration and discussion) on all currently held major positions, at least including analytical, continental and pragmatist philosophy, and maybe also Eastern philosophy (i.e., a source focused only on analytical philosophy would not make the cut).

To be precise, I am interested in the last 50-100 years until today (not an historical account). The reference should include contemporary (living) philosophers and current streams of thought (material turn, practice turn, etc.). I do have a baseline understanding of modern philosophy (esp. it's history until around WW2), but I am not very familiar with contemporary discourse and would like to learn more about it. I am particular interested on views that inform what research should, or should not, be done in the different sciences/fields, argued on philosophical grounds.

The more concise the piece is written, the better. It is about understanding the landscape, the discourses and groups of thoughts for me, not about the particularities of any one philosopher. Open and free access to the source would be a plus, but it is not a must (it could also be a commercial source).

What would be a good book(s) or other source(s) to start? (if there is one such a comprehensive, current overview at all)

Thank you for any help and recommendation(s)!

  • 4
    of science != in general. You're going to have to pick one.
    – virmaior
    Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 7:42
  • Not sure I understand why you believe that, virmaior.. "Philosophy of science != philosophy of science", of course. But that does not lead to "You have to pick one". General philosophy is a superset, of which philosophy of science is a subset to my understanding. A general philosophy, sag Pragmatism, has certainly implications of how to do science (or has it not?). So, the two can (and should be) related, one does not necessarily have to pick "either or" for one's learning of philosophy. Especially, as I'm precisely interested in the relation. You loose me here... Could you elaborate?
    – Marc S
    Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 0:37
  • If you look at my comment again, you should see I wrote "of science != in general". I don't deny there's any relation; I deny they are identical. Philosophy of in general is broad that it's not plausible to answer both philosophy in general and philosophy in general in relation to science in a short SE answer. Surely any general philosophy has implications for science on some level from Heraclitus to Heidegger to Dewey to Zhu Xi, but based on the rest of your question that doesn't seem to be what you want
    – virmaior
    Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 1:32
  • 1
    You need to pick which one you are asking about. Otherwise, the scope is too large.
    – virmaior
    Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 2:01
  • 1
    Yes, but you're asking for two disparate sets of books. Which set do you want?
    – virmaior
    Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 2:30

3 Answers 3


I am afraid such review/book does not exist if only because philosophy of science is mostly examined inside the analytic tradition and because science as we know it is a relatively new activity in human history, thus being of course less discussed by eastern philosophy. Moreover, as one comment to the question pointed out, the constraint that the review/book should be both on general philosophy and especially about science limits considerably the options.

That said there are a lot of sources in the analytic philosophy on philosophy of science which also sometimes addresses topics that are usually considered more 'continental'. Hereby a couple of suggestions which I post even though they are certainly not as complete as what your question asks for. Perhaps it is nevertheless useful.

  1. Okasha, S. (2002). Philosophy of Science. A very short introduction. Oxford University Press.
    • An indeed very short introduction, but covers most relevant topics.
  2. Curd, M., Cover, J. A., and Pincock, C. (2013). Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues. W.W. Norton, second edition.
    • An anthology, so you have access to the original texts.
  3. Curd, M. and Psillos, S. (2013). The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Science. Routledge, second edition.
    • Discusses topics in philosophy of science in more details. Chapters written by important people in the field.
  4. Rosenberg, A. (2012). Philosophy of Science: a contemporary introduction. Routledge, third edition.
    • Good general overview and discusses some topics that are important in the continental tradition.
  • Thank you, PVJ, most helpful. I have started with the Okasha book and then will read Curd/Psillos. First impression is that they really focus on analytical philosophy (as you indicated), without much consideration of other philosophies and their views on research/science... but I will report back when actually done with reading. I also found this, which seems a bit more inclusive on first glance koppa.jyu.fi/avoimet/hum/menetelmapolkuja/en/methodmap/…
    – Marc S
    Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 1:01
  • I am glad it helps! You may also have a look at Rosenberg's Philosophy of Social Science. There's a chapter specifically on 'Continental Philosophy of Social Science'. Some of the themes are also more continental, if one could say that. The link you referred to seems indeed very exhaustive, but perhaps at the cost of some details.
    – PVJ
    Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 12:41

Probably you may consider also Putnam, Hilary: Renewing Philosophy. 1992. In the preface Putnam announces a diagnosis of the whole present situation of philosophy as well as proposals to renew contemporary philosophy.

The book arises from the Gifford lectures in 1990. Putnams deals with scientifical and logical issues as well as with issues from the philosophy of language and from political philosophy. Of course the book is written from the personal standpoint of a single philosopher. But Putnam is an eminent comtemporary philosopher and it is interesting to learn why he criticizes many of his former views.


What your asking for does not really exist, since contemporary philosophy is too vast to be encompassed in a single volume. However, you might be interested in "The Future for Philosophy" edited by Brian Leiter, which has ambitions in this direction, and does include chapters on philosophy of science. Leiter's own chapter in the volume is on continental philosophy.

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